Surah Ar-Ra’d (Surah 13 – The Thunder) describes a common challenge or criticism from unbelievers
If thou dost marvel (at their want of faith), strange is their saying: “When we are (actually) dust, shall we indeed then be in a creation renewed?” They are those who deny their Lord! They are those round whose necks will be yokes (of servitude): they will be Companions of the Fire, to dwell therein (for aye)! (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:5)
And the Unbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide. (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:7)
It comes in two parts. The unbelievers in Surah Ar-Ra’d ayah 5 asks whether the resurrection will ever happen. From their perspective, since it has never happened before, it will not happen in the future. Then they ask why no miraculous sign is given to validate that a resurrection will occur. In a real sense they say, “Prove it!”.
Surah al-Furqan (Surah 25 – The Criterion) shows this same challenge given slightly differently.
And the (Unbelievers) must indeed have passed by the town on which was rained a shower of evil: did they not then see it (with their own eyes)? But they fear not the Resurrection.
When they see thee, they treat thee no otherwise than in mockery: “Is this the one whom God has sent as an apostle?” (Surah al-Furqan 25:40-41)
There is no fear of the coming resurrection, nor of the prophet PBUH. They demand to be shown the resurrection.
Surah al-Furqan also reveals how Allah views the unbelievers.
Yet have they taken, besides him, gods that can create nothing but are themselves created; that have no control of hurt or good to themselves; nor can they control death nor life nor resurrection. (Surah al-Furqan 25:3)
Surah al-Furqan Ayah 3 reveals that people often take false gods. How does one know what is a false god from the True? The ayah give the answer. False gods cannot ‘control death nor life nor resurrection’. To control a resurrection – that separates the false from the true.
Whether the challenge is from unbelievers to Allah and his apostles to prove what should be feared from what can be ignored, or whether the warning comes from Allah to unbelievers to worship the true and not the false, the measuring stick is the same – resurrection.
Resurrection demonstrates ultimate authority and power. The prophets Ibrahim PBUH, Musa PBUH, Dawud PBUH and Mohamed PBUH – great though they were – did not resurrect over death. The wisest of men –Socrates, Einstein, Newton, and Suleiman – have not either. No emperor who has ruled on any throne, including the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ummayyad, Abbasid, Marmaluk and Ottoman Empires, has overcome death and resurrected. It is the ultimate challenge. This is the challenge that Isa al Masih PBUH chose to face.
We carefully followed the daily events of the Prophet Isa al Masih’s last week recorded in the Injil. At the week’s end he was crucified on Passover Day, a sacred Jewish festival. Then he rested in death through the Sabbath, the Holy 7th day of the week. These Holy days had been instituted by Allah long beforehand through the Prophet Musa (PBUH) in the Taurat. We read those instructions here:
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
3 “‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
4 “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (Leviticus 23:1-5)
Is it not curious that both the crucifixion and rest of the Prophet Isa al Masih coincided exactly with two Holy festivals prescribed 1500 years beforehand as shown in the timeline? Why is this? The answer reaches out to us all, even to how we now greet one another every day.
This coordination of the Prophet Isa al Masih with the festivals of the Taurat continues. The recitation from Taurat above dealt only with the first two festivals. The next festival was called ‘first fruits’ and the Taurat gave this instruction about it.
The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11 He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath…
14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. (Leviticus 23: 9-11, 14)
So ‘the day after the sabbath’ of the Passover was a third Holy day. Every year on this day the High Priest entered the Holy Temple and waved the very first grain harvest of the spring before the LORD. This signified the start of new life after the death of winter, looking forward to a plentiful harvest so the people could eat and be satisfied.
This was the exact same day after the Sabbath when Isa al Masih PBUH had rested in death, the Sunday of a new week on Nisan 16. The Injil records startling events on this same day that the High Priest went in the Temple to offer ‘first fruits’ of new life. Here is the record:
Isa al Masih Risen from the Dead
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24: 1-48)
Isa al Masih’s Victory
The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH on that Holy day of ‘First Fruits’ achieved a great victory that his enemies and his companions did not believe possible – he came back to life victorious over death. As the Injil explains:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 54-56)
But this was not just a victory for the prophet. It is also a victory for you and me, guaranteed by the timing with the First Fruits festival with his resurrection. The Injil explains it like this:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15: 20-26)
The prophet was raised to life on the same day as the First Fruits festival so we would know that we can participate in this same resurrection from death. Just as the First Fruits festival was an offering of new life with the expectation of a great harvest later in the spring, the Injil tells us that the raising of Isa al Masih was the ‘first fruit’ of the resurrection with the expectation of a larger resurrection later for all ‘who belong to him’. We saw in the Taurat and Qur’an that death came because of Adam. The Injil tells us that in a parallel way resurrection life comes through Isa al Masih. He is the first fruits of new life that we are all invited to participate in.
Easter: Celebrating the Resurrection of that Sunday
Today the resurrection of Isa al Masih is often referred to as Easter, and the Sunday that he rose is often remembered as Easter Sunday. But these words only came into use hundreds of years afterwards. The actual words used to remember the resurrection of Isa al Masih are not important. What is important is the resurrection of the Prophet as a fulfillment of the Festival of First Fruits begun hundreds of years earlier in the time of the Prophet Musa, and what this means for you and me.
This is seen for Sunday of the new week in the Timeline:
‘Good Friday’ answered
This also answers our question about ‘Good Friday’. As the Injil explains:
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)
When he ‘tasted death’ on Good Friday he did so for you, me and ‘everyone’. Good Friday has its name because it was good for us. When he rose on the First Fruits Festival he now offers new life to everyone.
Resurrection and Peace of Isa al Masih in the Qur’an
Though given in less detail, the Qur’an labels the resurrection of Isa al Masih as one of three most important days. Surah Maryam recites it in this way:
[Isal al Masih said] “So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! (Surah Maryam 19:33)
The Injil also emphasizes the birth of Isa al Masih, his death and now his resurrection. Since his resurrection is ‘first-fruits’, the peace that was upon the prophet in his resurrection is also now available to you and me. Isa al Masih showed this when he greeted his disciples later on the day of his resurrection:
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John20:19-22)
The customary greeting that Muslims now extend to one another (‘salam ealaykum’ – Peace be upon you) was used by the Prophet Isa al Masih long beforehand to link his resurrection with the peace that is now given to us. We should remember this promise from the prophet every time we hear or say this greeting, and think of the gift of the Holy Spirit also now available to us.
Resurrection of Isa al Masih considered
The Prophet Isa al Masih showed himself alive from death over many days to his companions. These events from the Injil are narrated here. But it is instructive to note that even at his first appearance to his disciples it:
…seemed to them like nonsense (Luke 24: 10)
The prophet himself had to:
beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
And again later:
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24: 44)
How can we be sure if this is indeed Allah’s plan and straight way to give us life from death? Only God can know the future, so Signs revealed hundreds of years previously through the Prophets in Taurat and Zabur, and fulfilled by Isa al Masih were written to give us assurance:
so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1: 4)
So we can be informed on this vital topic of the sacrifice and resurrection of the Prophet Isa al Masih, links to four different articles are available:
- This article reviews the Signs given in the Taurat (Law of Moses) pointing to Isa al Masih.
- This article reviews the Signs in ‘the Prophets and the Psalms’. The goal of these two articles is to allow us to judge for ourselves whether it was indeed written that “The Masih will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” (Luke 24:46) in these books.
- This article will help us understand how to receive this gift of resurrection life from Isa al Masih.
- This article addresses some confusion about the crucifixion of Isa al Masih, reviewing what the Holy Qur’an and different Islamic scholars have written about it.